Controversy over possible MARTA train station at Avalon

Joelle Dlugozima, Staff Writer

In 2015, the MARTA agency proposed the expansion of the red line which would head north from its current terminus at North Springs to Windward Parkway, only three miles away from Avalon. The cost would range from $2.2 to $2.4 billion. The proposed MARTA station would service Sandy Springs, Roswell, and Alpharetta, bringing five new stations along GA Highway 400, according to the MARTA website.

To expand economic development and connect communities, the MARTA has proposed a multi-route expansion for the next five years. MARTA proposed that Avalon, the $600 million shopping center, could be one of their points of interest for an upcoming train station. However, the idea has caused backlash among Avalon residents.

Opponents raise concerns that a MARTA station could boost crime rates by bringing potential criminals to their homes. In 2016, the MARTA systems saw four hundred and sixty-two crimes committed, including larceny, robbery, and aggravated assault according to “After recent killings, how safe is MARTA?”

“Avalon’s wanted demographic would not take MARTA or any other forms of public transportation,” a frequent Avalon visitor responded when asked if she thought Avalon would profit from a train station. She believed the high-end restaurants and shops in Avalon would not attract people who ride public transportation.

Proponents, meanwhile, welcome the opportunity for greater rail service. According to MARTA, public transit cuts down on use of personal vehicles, saving riders from costly damages and repairs. Public transit also saves cities more than $21 billion in congestion costs.

Simbo, a local visitor, enjoyed the idea of accessible public transportation. “I drive everywhere so having a MARTA installation would get me and other cars off the roads,” he explained, “Residents could also commute via MARTA.”

Brandon Beach, State Senator and a vocal proponent of public transportation, advocates for an accessible, mass transit connection. “I think by taking MARTA or GRTA, people will learn to like transit and think of it as a viable option,” Beach said in “Phase II doubles size of Avalon.” “We need it here. It’s an economic development issue.”

According to MARTA’s recent Connect 400 Alternatives Analysis, traffic congestion caused by insufficient transportation system capacity affects both personal travel and goods movement, which constrains economic development opportunities. The expansion of the red line will satisfy the need of alternative transportation after the 45 percent increase in jobs by 2040.

The GA 400 project team is currently completing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for review by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) that will present the environmental analysis of the options under consideration before recommending a preferred alternative. The team hopes to complete the process by 2018. If all goes as planned, the project could open around 2030.